Voice. No, this is not about the sounds uttered from your vocal cavity; it’s about the inner courage to stand up for yourself; to be better than the “you” you were before a journey started. Finding your voice is ultimately the catalyst for change and is one of the many key lessons in Garth Jennings’ vivid animated hit, “Sing”. Christophe Lourdelet co-directs.
As a kid, Buster (Matthew McConaughey) was introduced to the theater, and fell instantly in love. Following his heart into adulthood, he owns the Moon Theater, but can’t put a show on to save his life. With the help of his friend Eddie (John C. Reilly), a doubtful Suffolk sheep and his trusty green iguana assistant, Karen (Garth Jennings), Buster sets up a singing competition, drawing every animal with a dream to Sing, including an overworked, but inventive piglet, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a streetwise mouse, Mike (Seth McFarlane), Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a young punk porcupine with big aspirations, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a mountain gorilla with a voice trying to find a path away from crime and Meena (Tori Kelly), a teenage Indian elephant with a desire to sing. Gunter (Nick Kroll) is Rosita’s effervescent dance partner; Norman (Nick Offerman) is Rosita’s workaholic husband. Jennifer Hudson, Rhea Pearlman, Leslie Jones and Larraine Newman round out the supporting voice cast.
Jennings’ script tries to establish each of the supporting character’s emotional states by interweaving their backstories with Buster’s struggles. Some of the character’s stories work, certainly Johnny’s and especially Meena’s. Unfortunately, these side stories overwhelmed the emotional impact of Buster’s story. The songs chosen for each supporting character allows them their moment to shine during the third act, supporting their underlying emotion.
Similar story challenges arose in the inferior “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Minions”. Hopefully, this is not a continuing trend for Illumination, which has a stellar track record in the 3D animation department; a strength in “Sing”.
Illumination Mac Guff delivered the 3D animation in spades, showing a range of motion and emotion. Complex dance sequences with facial expressions, right down to the quivering lips carrying a note, thanks to the masters of animation, the entire experience is vibrant. The movie was converted for 3D theaters in post-production. The 2D image was stunning; one can only imagine what it looked like in 3D.
“Sing” is all about the audio. And not just the music, but the ambient sounds, the voices; all of it conveys a sense of exuberance. Then there’s the music! Joby Talbot’s original score is breathtaking in its own right. The selected songs, from Christopher Cross’s “Ride Like The Wind” to Van Halen’s “Jump”, to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”, Queen’s “Under Pressure” and an especially heartfelt rendition of “Hallelujah” convey the highest level of emotion, hitting all the right notes in terms of finding your inner self
Despite a challenged script, each character finds their own voice, ending on a high note. For that reason, “Sing” is Recommended.